There is nothing much that links striker Daizen Maeda, and midfielders Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi beyond their nationality, it would appear. Moreover, they aren’t an extension of the countryman Kyogo Furuhashi they have joined at the Glasgow side. They weren’t club team-mates or had any notable personal associations. Ahead of potential debuts for the new trio in the Hibs home encounter on Monday with which Celtic resume their season following the winter break, they have already exhibited that they are contrasting characters, at contrasting stages of their professional and personal lives. And while Posteocoglou acknowledges “to a certain extent” it is a gamble to bring in three players from one league at the same time, he hints at a whiff of idleness in the constant lumping of Furuhashi, Maeda, Hatate and Ideguchi together.
“We have to be careful about just saying ‘four Japanese players’,” said the Celtic manager. “These are four individuals, they are totally different people. If you ever get the chance to meet them you will see they are totally different people, totally different kinds of players. It is lazy for all of us to say I have just brought in four Japanese. I have brought in four quality players, players who I think can add to what I am doing here. They are all totally different, they all have different personalities, they have had different careers so far and they offer something different to the club.
“The reason I went down that road, is, one, I have great knowledge of that market in that part of the world because that is where I have worked and, two, it is ideal for the January market because their season finishes in December. If we wanted to get players in early in the January window that is a good part of the world to do business. Don’t just assume we’ve brought in four Japanese players, we have brought in four quality players, all very different, who can all contribute.”
And the Celtic manager also rebuffs the idea that the assimilation of the J-League arrivals will be related to them forming their own bubble… or being teased out of one. “The reality of it is they’re not going to help each other integrate into the group. Callum McGregor and the senior players in the squad understand that,” said Postecoglou. “They are the ones they are interacting with. Some of them came to Europe because they didn’t want to be in the environment they were in, that is why they are here. So, the fact Kyogo was here wasn’t an attraction to them. Having another three players from Japan wasn’t that exciting for Kyogo. What’s exciting is that we are bringing another three quality players in. Kyogo is excited, and the players we are bringing in are coming to a big club and want to test themselves at the highest possible level. I get it because it seems like people who come from the same place are all the same. But I have run into all kinds of different Scots since I have been here, mate. That’s the same all over the world.”